January 3, 2011

The Dilemma of Generosity

So, I got a phone call from one of my friends yesterday.  Apparently, my 6 year old daughter had given her daughter a gift bag full of all kinds of fun things: paper snowflakes, a penguin coloring page, some sequins and a ten dollar bill.  That last item was the reason for the call. We decided that she probably didn't realize that it was still in the bag.  (It was a leftover gift  bag from Christmas.)

After I got off the phone, I called Tayleigh to come talk to me.  When I asked her if she meant to give the money away, she said yes.  Because she wanted to be nice.  You should have heard her reasoning.  She already had a ten dollar bill and got another one for Christmas, and she didn't need two!  She thought her friend could take it to the Dollar Store (read: Mecca).

 So, I praised her for her generosity.  And then I was kind of stumped. I tried to explain to her that it was great to want to give gifts to your friends, but maybe we shouldn't give away quite so much money.  I tried to explain that while it was really nice, her friend didn't need that much money.  And if she wanted to give her money away, we should find someone to give it to who really needed it.

Then we talked about saving our money for things like college. (Maybe I'm jumping the gun on that one, but that was the way I grew up.  It was always assumed that I would go to college, and I did. I really want to encourage that with my own children.)

What would you do?  I want to encourage her generosity, but I don't want her to give away all of her possessions.  You see what I'm saying?  Any advice.


MommyJ said...

I think you did the right thing. I've found with my own kids that the younger they are, the harder it is for them to grasp the entire notion of money adding up to buy important things. Know what I mean? For them, actual cash in hand only translates into "Can I buy something with this as the store?" Such lack of understanding has often led to carelessness with keeping money, and some misplaced generosity as well. So we try and teach them what things cost, and like you did, why they should save their money for important things in the future. I don't think that's squelching generosity, I think it's just giving it purpose and direction.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

I think you did good.

Once when I was a kid, I gave my whole $50 birthday money to tithing and fast offerings because at the time I "felt so blessed that I didn't need it".

Ya, I was one of "those".

But I never did something like that again. I realized not long after that there is always something you want or need or future things to save up for.

But at the time, in the moment, I felt like I was doing the right thing. My mom even tried to talk to me about it in the end left the decision up to me.

Kristina P. said...

This is tough. You definitely don't want to teach her to be a pushover. It's good to be nice, but not *too* nice. When I was in high school, I was a definite people pleaser. I would pay for all my friend's lunches, etc. I'm glad I got out of that habit.

Jenna said...

Man, I'm just thinking I need a friend like Tayleigh!

Amateur Steph said...

We struggle with that too. Especially my oldest (5). She is very tender and loves to give things away. The hard part is when I listen to other kids coerce her to give them some of her favorite things.
We finally had to make a rule that she could only give things away that she made or that we bought specifically for a birthday or other present-giving event.

Erin said...

This is a really tough one! When she gets older, she doesn't want people to start taking advantage of her, or threaten to not be her friend unless she gives them stuff (my boys have heard this line already, in 2nd grade and kindergarten). Good luck to you! (And what a sweetheart you have.)

Emmy said...

Oh that is a hard one! My son does the same thing. Every time a friend comes over he wants to give him one of his toys. And it is hard as you want them to be kind and charitable without giving away the bank so to speak.

So, no advice really as I am stumped like you are. Sounds like you handled it well.

Loralee and the gang... said...

I think you handled it perfectly! It IS important to be generous, but when it make someone uncomfortable (or the parent) then things need to be reined in a bit. Learning these kinds of boundaries is important as well.

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